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Fallen Angels



A violent but unvarnished portrayal of the war in Vietnam.
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What parents need to know

Educational value

This  books will illuminate the Vietnam war for young people. It can help spark teens to learn more about the war. Our "Families Can Talk About" section can point parents and teens to some other interesting discussion topics.

Positive messages

This a realistic depiction of the Vietnam War without the glamour Hollywood often provides. Readers will have to think about the cost of war. Is it worth what it does to people fighting on either side?

Positive role models

Richie puts a human face on war. Through him -- and his often dispassionate telling of the horrors he has seen -- readers will get a true sense of the effects of war on a young person.


Extreme, graphic war violence to both soldiers and civilians. Depicts shootings and explosions, including a woman who booby-traps a small child to explode in an American soldier's arms.


References to some sexual fantasies of the soldiers.


Constant and extreme -- a realistic depiction of soldier talk. Asian people referred to as "gooks," as was common among American soldiers.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Soldiers drink, smoke marijuana.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this book realistically describes what it was like for American soldiers fighting in Vietnam in 1967-68. Expect profanity, poor grammar, and graphic violence; there are depictions of shootings and explosions, including a woman who booby-traps a small child to explode in an American soldier's arms. The story builds until the soldiers and readers are caught in a vortex of war. Richie asks some big questions -- about the reasons for the war, about the treatment of African-Americans, and more. The realism, humor, and intensity attract even reluctant readers and keep them reading -- and thinking about the cost of war.

What's the story?

Richie, an 18-year-old African-American kid from Harlem, joins the army and is sent to Vietnam in 1967. There, he bonds with the other soldiers in his small squad and watches as some of them die. Richie wonders if he'll live through the year as he participates in the growing violence of the war.

Is it any good?


Reading FALLEN ANGELS can be an intense experience, one that even reluctant readers may appreciate. This highly realistic depiction of young soldiers fighting the ground war in Vietnam was one of the first books to illuminate that war for young people. Today's adolescents, who were born after the Vietnam War, may not know much about it -- but that's OK because this book focuses on the experiences of the soldiers, not on the history of the war. Myers has the ability to make readers care about his characters and see them as real human beings. Ultimately, this is a vivid and unvarnished portrayal of the war in Vietnam.


Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the Vietnam War. Did you know anything about the Vietnam War before you read this book? Why is it important to read about events that happened before you were even born?

  • Richie sees that African-American soldiers are often put in the most dangerous situations. Do you think that is still true today? Why are so many of our soldiers fighting in today's wars from minority backgrounds? Is that fair?

Book details

Author:Walter Dean Myers
Genre:Historical Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Scholastic Inc.
Publication date:January 1, 1988
Number of pages:309
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 14
Award:Coretta Scott King Medal and Honors

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Parents Beware

While this book is written at a deceptively easy reading level (about 5th grade) it is NOT for any age teen. There are plenty of good books about the Vietnam War that do not use vulgarity, profanity and graphic violence. The author didn't even serve in Vietnam -- it is entirely fictional. There is pervasive use of the F-word throughout, as well as describing cutting off a baby's head and plenty of other gore. Disturbingly, the main character decides there is no line between good vs. evil.
Kid, 12 years old May 22, 2009

Good book. Lots of swearing, but that really is the reallity of it.

This is one of my favorite books, but has tons of swearing. Still a must read for war-historical fiction lovers.
Parent of a 17 year old Written byyoung hercules September 26, 2010
It shows people how the world was at that time, and portrays the war from a different point of view
What other families should know
Educational value